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Authors: Lisa Jewell

Vince and Joy

BOOK: Vince and Joy
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Vince and Joy


Praise for Lisa Jewell’s previous bestsellers:


‘She is remarkably assured and her dialogue is cracking. It is terrific stuff: touching, funny and sentient’
Sunday Times


‘Do we sneer? We do not. Jewell writes with lashings of what the shrinks might call emotional intelligence – pop fiction at its proudest’


‘Deliciously enjoyable… although there have been many books trying to decipher the new rule of engagement, Jewell’s is one of the most refreshing: addictively readable without being irritating or glib’
The Times


‘A party worth gatecrashing! Lisa Jewell pulls off a rare trick which even the likes of Helen Fielding and Nick Hornby couldn’t quite manage. She has written a book about relationships which appeals to men and women… It’s a spicy lamb kofta in a sea of bland chicken masala’
Daily Mirror


‘Jewell’s exceptional skill is for story-telling and her insight into the twenty-something psyche is easy to relate to her characters as they stumble through adulthood. Very entertaining and very funny’


‘A subtle dissection of the modern world… the perfect summer read’


‘This is a gem’


‘Bubbly and addictive, it’s the best romantic comedy we’ve read in ages’


‘Proving once more that she’s far more than a run-of-the-mill chick lit writer…
Λ Friend of the Family
is more full of warmth than a duck-feather duvet and just as gentle’
Independent on Sunday


‘Poignant and humorous’


‘An absorbing read’


‘It has all the essential ingredients of a captivating read – a great story, a mystery to solve and a touch of romance’


‘It’s an infuriatingly enjoyable feel-good read’
The List


‘A breath of fresh air’ Tom Paulin,
Late Review


‘This is a lovely book… it is informed throughout with a wholesome desire to please and entertain’
Daily Telegraph


‘Lisa Jewell’s second novel stands out from the mass of chick-fic like a poppy in a cornfield’


‘A lovely, modern urban tale of interconnecting relationships, desires and disasters. Quite the nicest in this vein for some time’


Lisa Jewell is in her thirties and was born and raised in north London, where she lives with her husband and their baby girl, Amélie Mae. She worked as a secretary before redundancy, a bet and a book deal took her away from all that. She is the author of four huge bestsellers:
Ralph’s Party, Thirtynothing, One-Hit Wonder
and, most recently,
Friend of the Family.

Vince and Joy

The Love Story of a Lifetime








Published by the Penguin Group
Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London
, England
Penguin Group (USA), Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA
Penguin Group (Canada), 10 Alcorn Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
M4V 3B2
(a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)
Penguin Ireland, 25 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland
(a division of Penguin Books Ltd)
Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road,
Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty Ltd)
Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd, 11 Community Centre,
Panchsheel Park, New Delhi – 110 017, India
Penguin Group (NZ), cnr Airborne and Rosedale Roads, Albany,
Auckland 1310, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd)
Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, 24 Sturdee Avenue,
Rosebank 2196, South Africa


Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London
, England


Published in Penguin Books 2005


Copyright © Lisa Jewell, 2005


All rights reserved
The moral right of the author has been asserted


Except in the United States of America, this book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher’s prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser


ISBN-13: 978-0-141-01218-6


For Jascha and Amelie, my happy ending.


Thank you, as ever, to Judith and Sarah. My books would all be unfinished and unpublished if you two didn’t have a hand in the early stages. Please don’t; ever emigrate, die or go blind.

Thanks to Siobhán, who really had her work cut out for her trying to smooth out my wayward timelines. Thank you for ensuring that everyone was gestating, menstruating, marrying, divorcing and ageing at roughly the appropriate times. No one deserves to be pregnant for twelve months.

Thanks to Oh Paxton for the beautiful cover, to Rob for the brilliant words and to Louise for being the Best Editor in the World™. Thanks also to Mel, without whom there would, literally, have been no book. And lastly thank you to Amelie, whose presence in my life has transformed me into a lean, mean, disciplined writing machine who can now throw out 5,000 words before lunchtime. Thank you for being such a good little girl and for all those afternoon naps when I managed to squeeze out another 1,000 words. You are my angel.

Either marriage is a destiny, I believe, or there is no sense in it at all, it’s a piece of humbug. Max Frisch

If it is your time, love will track you down like a cruise missile. Lynda Barry


Al & Emma’s Kitchen, Saturday, 19 September 2003, 12.35 a.m.


Vince glanced around the table at his friends. They were all roughly the same age as him – thirty-five, thirty-six. This conversation, or one very like it, was probably going on around a thousand London dinner tables at this very moment. But this was special because it was one they hadn’t shared for so long and because it was being brought out, like the best china, for a very special guest. For him.

This was the first group gathering since he and Jess had split up, and everyone seemed extra-sparkly, like guests at a pretend TV dinner party. He’d seen them do it before, with new girlfriends and old friends, who arrived suddenly from overseas, out of the blue, like characters in a soap opera.

They wanted him to know that he was still one of them, whatever his status. Look, they were saying, you’ve got fantastic friends and life is going to be just great. And in showing themselves to him afresh, they were reairing their shared history. Remember when, they said. Remember that time in Amsterdam – Simon’s stag night, remember – on the ferry on the way back and Simon projectile-vomited all over the food counter. And remember that weekend in Cornwall; remember Al standing on that rock in the middle of the sea at five in the morning fucked out of his brain on speed and how that wave
crashed over him and we all thought he was dead. Remember that?

The conversation turned to a time before Vince had known half these people, to a time they shared at university before he’d come into their lives. Stories of snakebite and acid and STDs. Stories of grim fridges and disastrous casseroles, of sleepwalking and incontinence.

He rested his chin on his clasped hands and absorbed the atmosphere while he listened to his friends reminisce. The clock on the microwave said 12.38 a.m. He’d usually be home by now, he mused, paying the baby-sitter, looking in on Lara. Instead he was still here. Nowhere to go; no one to get back to. He was a married man who wasn’t married, a father who didn’t live with his child. He was all wrong. Everything in his life felt upended, unbalanced. But here in the genial, familiar warmth of Al and Emma’s kitchen, red wine and whisky basking in his bloodstream, the world was righted once more.

The conversation regressed further. They were talking about schooldays now, days before even the oldest of the friends had known each other. They were talking about crazes and crushes and snogging-then Natalie asked an open question.

‘So,’ she said, smiling mischievously over her fingertips, ‘how old was everyone when they lost their virginity? And who to? You first, Al.’

Al groaned, but went on to tell everyone that it was to a girl called Karen on a school trip to Paris when he was sixteen years old. They’d had sex in the bottom bed of the hostel bunks, while his friend Joe farted audibly, odorously and deliberately overhead.

Emma lost hers when she was seventeen, to a married man
who promised he’d leave his wife for her, then never contacted her again.

Natalie was more traditional, losing her virginity at the age of fourteen to a guy called Darren who looked like Steve Norman from Spandau Ballet. It was all over in thirty seconds and he cried when she didn’t bleed because he thought it meant she wasn’t really a virgin.

Steve had lost his at fifteen at his parents’ Β & Β, to an Austrian guest who lured him into her bedroom while he was on his way to the toilet in the middle of the night. She was forty-five with the worst stretchmarks you could possibly imagine and a scar from her ribcage to her groin from some kind of life-saving surgery. She grabbed his (at the time) long hair so hard while she rode him that she actually pulled a clump of it out. Afterwards, she waved it in the air like a trophy.

Claire shocked everyone by announcing that she’d lost it to her seventeen-year-old cousin on a Hoseasons boating holiday when she was only thirteen. They had sex under a bush on the banks of the Coventry Canal while their parents got drunk and shouted at each other inside the boat. Claire found out five years later that her older sister had lost her virginity to the same cousin and that he ended up being gay and living with a seventy-year-old man.

Tom lost his at sixteen in the back of a transit van being driven by his friend who’d just taken two tabs of acid and thought that they were a pair of giant writhing lizards. He’d pulled over to the side of the road, grabbed handfuls of grass out of the verge and thrown them all over the newly consummated couple because he thought maybe the lizards were hungry. Tom couldn’t remember the name of the girl.

And then it was Vince’s turn. His friends turned and smiled at him encouragingly.

‘Go on, Mr Mellon,’ said Al, rubbing his hands together, ‘hit us with it. What kind of depraved, repellent, deviant experience did you have?

BOOK: Vince and Joy
12.06Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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